Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


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Job: Editor/Communications Associate

The RCC is looking for a recent graduate and/or doctoral student to join its communications team. The position will start ideally on 15 November 2015, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Editing and communications staff work part time (19h/week) as a member of a team, editing outreach materials, scholarly manuscripts, and working on the RCC’s public profile in the field of environmental humanities. The position may suit candidates who are interested in or enrolled in further study at LMU Munich. Editing and communications staff at the RCC have the opportunity to join in activities with LMU graduate students and the community of international scholars affiliated with the center as Carson Fellows, and have access to university resources, including Munich’s university libraries and the Bavarian State Library, which together house over twenty million volumes.

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Editing the Environment

pic_kotasBy Dominic Kotas

I had heard of editing before I applied to become an editor at the RCC, but I had never really done it, and I didn’t know much about environmental studies. My first volume of RCC Perspectives, then, was a challenge. Certainly I added to my knowledge of human-nature relations in the cosmology of the Sateré-Mawé Indians of the Lower Amazon – no doubt about that. But, more generally, I was surprised how little I trusted my judgment and how uncertain I was of what needed to be changed. With editing, like with almost everything, the more you do it, the better you get. Even if you don’t notice. As a British citizen, I am constitutionally required to describe myself as never better than mediocre at anything, but even I can see that my editing skills have improved over the last two years. I trust my judgment more, proofread more rigorously, and make fewer small mistakes (although I’m not immune to the occasional blunder).

What have I learnt about environmental studies? Well, it is the curse of the editor often to read for errors rather than for content, and I’m not sure I could tell you about every article I have edited. But I have been impressed by the variety of topics discussed and presented at the RCC, and by the excitement of scholars to be working on environmental issues. Maybe this is a product of climate change. The environment is a hot topic – people are discussing it and are open to hearing and reading about it. But the excitement is also a product of the possibilities and diversity on offer at the RCC. Our contributors have included historians, archaeologists, neuroscientists, literary critics, fishing communities, ecovillage residents, lawyers, and theologians. The Center is a hub, and as such it’s diverse, vibrant, busy, and exciting. People relish the chance to work with each other.

That’s nice for them, of course, but is it enough? Do the articles that they write and that we publish serve a purpose? Continue reading


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Cocaine, Schizophrenia, and Nuclear Reactors: Life as an RCC Editor

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By Brenda Black

Our work as editors at the RCC requires us to be generalists (because of the wide variety of topics encountered), but also capable of interpreting highly specialized texts (because it is impossible to edit what one does not understand).

For one issue of Perspectives, my google search history included: cocaine, schizophrenia, bottlenecking, sermons, Hitler, synapses, placebo effects, Hume, slave rebellions, and peacocks. For other articles, I have found myself researching topics such as: How does a nuclear reactor work, or, more mundanely, how do automobile engines work. Another time I desperately wished I had taken a course in organic chemistry so that I could understand a discussion of industrial chemicals, and yet another article had me researching different agricultural methods such as no-till farming.

One of the most interesting and challenging articles I have edited was concerned with palynology, the study of pollen, something I hadn’t known even existed. This scientific field can provide intriguing insights into environments of the past through analysis of the pollen contained in the sediments of bogs and other natural archives. Used in combination with archaeological records and geochemical analysis of metals in the environment, palynology can help us reconstruct the history of human activities such as agriculture and mining. Continue reading